When it comes to clarifying popular myths, making new assertions rather than restating the commonly held myth is more effective. Researches found that denials and clarifications can reinforce popular myths rather then dispel them.
Joan Tabachnick, a good friend and smart colleague, recently reposted the article “Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach” by Shankar Vedantam published in the Washington Post in 2007 to the ATSA list serve. It's a good reminder for us that if we want people to understand the reality of sexual offending, we should avoid framing the issue around the myths the public already believes.
Here is the take-away last paragraph:
“Mayo found that rather than deny a false claim, it is better to make a completely new assertion that makes no reference to the original myth. Rather than say, as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) recently did during a marathon congressional debate, that ‘Saddam Hussein did not attack the United States; Osama bin Laden did,’ Mayo said it would be better to say something like, ‘Osama bin Laden was the only person responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks’ -- and not mention Hussein at all.”